# Difference Between HLOOKUP And VLOOKUP In Excel

What’s the difference between the ``` HLOOKUP ``` and ``` VLOOKUP ``` formulas in Excel?

While both functions are used to look up and retrieve data from a table, they operate in slightly different ways.

``` HLOOKUP ``` stands for “Horizontal Lookup,” while ``` VLOOKUP ``` stands for “Vertical Lookup.”

The main difference between the two is the direction in which they search for data. ``` HLOOKUP ``` searches horizontally (from left to right) across the first row in the ``` table_array ``` , while ``` VLOOKUP ``` searches vertically (from top to bottom) down the first column in the ``` table_array ``` .

This means that the data you’re trying to retrieve must be arranged in a specific way for each function to work effectively.

## What Is HLOOKUP?

When working with large sets of data in Excel, it can be challenging to find specific information. The ``` HLOOKUP ``` function is one of Excel’s most useful tools for searching and retrieving data from a table.

``` HLOOKUP ``` stands for Horizontal Lookup , which means it searches for a value in the first row of a table and returns a corresponding value in the same column from a specified row number. It is similar to ``` VLOOKUP ``` , but instead of searching for data vertically, it searches for the data horizontally in the first row of the ``` table_array ``` .

For example, let’s say you have a table of sales data with years in the first horizontal row and the names of different products in the first vertical axis. If you want to search for how much in sales was made by Widget A, you can use ``` HLOOKUP ``` to search for the year and then the distance in rows from the year row to Widget A.

## What Is VLOOKUP?

As an Excel user, you may have heard of ``` VLOOKUP ``` , which stands for Vertical Lookup . It is a function that allows you to search for a specific value in the first column of a table and return a corresponding value in the same row from another column in the table.

``` VLOOKUP ``` is a powerful tool that saves time and effort when working with large data sets. It is commonly used for tasks such as finding the price of a product based on its code or looking up a customer’s name based on their ID number.

The syntax for the ``` VLOOKUP ``` function is relatively simple. You need to specify the value you want to look up, the range of cells containing the table, the column number of the value you want to return, and whether you want an exact or approximate match.

Overall, ``` VLOOKUP ``` is a valuable function that can help you quickly find and retrieve data in Excel. However, it is important to understand its limitations and potential pitfalls, such as the fact that it only works with data arranged in a specific way (i.e. the ID must be in the first column of the ``` table_array ``` ).

## Syntax Differences

When it comes to the syntax of ``` HLOOKUP ``` and ``` VLOOKUP ``` functions, there may appear to be no real differences, but there is one key difference.

Remember, the ``` HLOOKUP ``` function searches for a value in the first row of a table, and the ``` VLOOKUP ``` function searches for a value in the first column of a table, and this is evident in the third parameter of each function.

Here’s the formula syntax for the ``` HLOOKUP ``` function:

``=HLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, row_index_num, [range_lookup])``

And here’s the formula syntax for the ``` VLOOKUP ``` function:

``=VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, column_index_num, [range_lookup])``

On the other hand, the syntax for ``` VLOOKUP ``` is as follows:

As you can see, the main difference is that ``` HLOOKUP ``` uses the parameter ``` row_index_num ``` to specify the row number in the table, while ``` VLOOKUP ``` uses the parameter ``` col_index_num ``` to specify the column number .

Every other parameter can be the same.

## Functionality Differences

When it comes to Excel, the ``` HLOOKUP ``` and ``` VLOOKUP ``` functions are two of the most commonly used functions for finding data in a table. While they may seem similar, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand.

Firstly, the ``` HLOOKUP ``` function searches for data in the top row of the ``` table_array ``` , while the ``` VLOOKUP ``` function searches for data in the first column of the ``` table_array ``` .

This means that the orientation of your table will determine which function you should use.

If the value you are looking for can be found in the first column, you should use ``` VLOOKUP ``` , and if it can be found in the first row, you should use ``` HLOOKUP ``` .

Remember, it is important to know when using ``` VLOOKUP ``` , that the lookup value must be in the leftmost column of the table, while with HLOOKUP, it must be in the top row of the table. This can be a little confusing at first, but it’s important to keep in mind when using these functions.

Overall, both functions have their strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs. By understanding the differences between ``` HLOOKUP ``` and ``` VLOOKUP ``` , you can make sure that you’re using the right function for the job.

## When To Use HLOOKUP

As I mentioned earlier, ``` HLOOKUP ``` is used to search for a value in the top row of a table and return a corresponding value from a row below.

Here are some scenarios where ``` HLOOKUP ``` might be the better option:

• You have a table with headers along the top row and you want to search for a value in one of those headers.
• You want to retrieve data from a row below a matching value in the top row.

I’ve written another article on the ``` HLOOKUP ``` function, providing more tips and tricks on how you can use the formula effectively.

## When To Use VLOOKUP

As I mentioned earlier, ``` VLOOKUP ``` is an excellent tool when you need to search for data in a table and retrieve information from a different column. Here are some specific situations where ``` VLOOKUP ``` is particularly useful:

• When you have a large table and need to search for a specific value quickly
• When you need to retrieve information from a different column based on a specific value

One important thing to keep in mind is that ``` VLOOKUP ``` only works when the lookup value is in the leftmost column of the table. If your lookup value is in a different column, you’ll need to use a different function or rearrange your table so that the lookup value is in the leftmost column.

## Conclusion

After comparing the ``` HLOOKUP ``` and ``` VLOOKUP ``` functions in Excel, I have found that both are useful for different purposes. ``` HLOOKUP ``` is best used when searching for data in a row, while ``` VLOOKUP ``` is best used when searching for data in a column.

It is important to note that both functions have their limitations. ``` HLOOKUP ``` can only search for data in the top row, while ``` VLOOKUP ``` can only search for data in the leftmost column in the table array.

Overall, the decision to use ``` HLOOKUP ``` or ``` VLOOKUP ``` depends on the specific needs of the user. It is important to understand the differences between the two functions in order to choose the one that will be most effective for the task at hand.

Ryan Sheehy
Ryan has been dabbling in code since the late '90s when he cut his teeth exploring VBA in Excel. Having his eyes opened with the potential of automating repetitive tasks, he expanded to Python and then moved over to scripting languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP.